Category Archives: Our Families Say

Our Families Say 10

March 5th, 2013

Everyone is afraid of something: spiders, heights, fire, or the dark. On top of all of those, I have another fear. And it’s one that some people may call irrational. If you knew my family history, you’d understand why I’m afraid of substance abuse.

Mental illness runs rampant in my family (depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety). Having grown up in a time when mental health was hardly discussed and in a household where children were to be seen and not heard, my family went undiagnosed. My aunt, my uncles, and my mom began self-medicating with a combination of drugs and alcohol. They all struggled for years and continue to work toward sobriety.

Like my family, I too live with mental illness. The difference is I grew up in a home with supportive and open minded parents who were willing to learn and listen. Yet, I still wonder whether or not that gene was passed down to me. Many of my cousins, and even one of my siblings, are now substance abusers. I fear that someday, I’ll share the same fate.

— Anonymous

Posted in Our Families Say | Comments Off on Our Families Say 10

Our Families Say 9

January 1st, 2013

Therapy hasn’t always been my favorite place to go. Having been in therapy since I was eight years old, and having now turned twenty, I have gone through about thirteen therapists. I remember there was a point in my therapeutic treatment when I hated therapy and I dreaded every appointment. I was embarrassed by the fact that I was in therapy, that I even needed it. My middle school friends must have thought I was very sick, because as far as they knew I was constantly being pulled out of school for “doctors” appointments. After a while, I started to recognize that therapy was a good thing for me, because it gave me an outlet to discuss subjects that I wouldn’t (or couldn’t) discuss with anyone and would stuff deep inside myself until I had another breakdown.

After my first hospitalization at seventeen, there was this shift when I started actively participating in my treatment. I started to ask questions, to make difficult decisions about what was healthy for me and what was not. I started to recognize my strengths instead of focusing on my weaknesses. And I started telling my friends that I was in fact in therapy. I remember being so scared about their reactions, but nine times out of ten they were okay with it, and were glad that I trusted them enough to let them know.

Now, the relationship between therapy and me is different. I cannot say that I always enjoy it, but now I can recognize the positive effects it has on me. It hasn’t always been my favorite place to go, but overall, it has helped me to create coping skills, to have someone to talk to when I ‘m feeling depressed, and to help me maintain my life as a healthy young adult. It has allowed me to have an outlet for my feelings so that I don’t keep them inside and internalize them. I still have trouble expressing my feelings, even in therapy, but I am working on what I need to work on, and that is good enough for me.

—Therapy and Me: A Work in Progress

Posted in Our Families Say | Comments Off on Our Families Say 9

Our Families Say 8

November 7th, 2012

A thought came to me the other day about the importance of asking the right question when I’m faced with a situation with my child: I wish that I always knew the right question to ask and how to phrase it, so my child would be able to give me the details that would help me support and understand him.

The best days have been when I have found that right question. Then I can understand and support the needs of my child. I feel powerful as a parent, on-track and on-focus.

The worst days are when an event has already happened. It’s only then I have sudden clarity about what question I should have asked at the onset. I begin to second-guess myself and am overly critical about what I should have done.

The reality is, as a parent, I need to do my best each day. Some days everything will line up and tough situations will work out smoothly. Other days, nothing will line up. Situations will blow up like a hurricane with gale force winds.

The piece that I need to focus on during each rough day is finding the positive and doing my best. I must look at the areas where I can improve in a positive light, and work on developing skills to help me get through.

The piece that I need to focus on during a good day is asking: Why did that day go so well? What made it different? And, if I cannot figure it out, I just need to celebrate that it was a smooth day!

—Anonymous parent

Posted in Our Families Say | Comments Off on Our Families Say 8

Our Families Say 7

September 19th, 2012

What happens when you need services in Massachusetts, but are having a really hard time accessing them? What happens when you are deemed ineligible for Department of Mental Health services on more than one occasion, even though many of your friends, family and even professionals are telling you that you should be eligible? What happens if Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) services are not enough, or if you are nearing the age of 21 and can’t access those services anymore? What happens when outpatient therapy just isn’t doing it for you? What do you do if you don’t identify with anyone at your local Recovery Learning Community, for whatever reason?

These are questions I have been asking myself as I near the dreaded age of 21.

In less than a year, I will no longer be eligible for CBHI services and I will not have the option of anything other than outpatient therapy for my mental health needs. Hopefully, I will be able to keep my outpatient therapist. Even that is up in the air because I will have to reapply for Massachusetts Health services once I turn 21.

I am very nervous about this transition. I am emotionally well right now, but I know “what comes up must come down” on my emotional Ferris wheel. And what will happen to me then?

Thankfully, I have a great support system, comprised mostly of people who I have met through the Parent/Professional Advocacy League. They have become great friends to me, and I know they will be with me through thick and thin. I have become very resourceful in my search for services and it helps to have friends in high places, so I’m sure it will be okay.

Until then, though, I will be stuck in between.

—Dani, transition-age youth

Posted in Our Families Say | Comments Off on Our Families Say 7

Our Families Say 6

August 1st, 2012

We all have experienced anxiety at one time or another. Imagine experiencing that anxiety on a daily basis and having an Autism Spectrum Disorder such as Asperger’s Syndrome. Now imagine that scenario as a 10 year old boy. How do I as his mother help soothe his thoughts and calm down enough for him to get to sleep at night and stay sleeping? When will the cycle end of his worrying about when the next natural disaster will strike and if it will affect him, his family, or his friends? Whatever the anxiety provoking situation may be, it is hard to watch such a young person deal with such huge issues!

As the parent of a child with a social and emotional disability tangled with anxiety, I realized that just therapy was not enough. I was faced one day with the decision of what to do to help him with his anxiety – going beyond therapy. This ever agonizing step, which so many parents like me are faced with,….MEDICATION!!

When no one’s words, suggestions, books, meditation help curb your child’s anxiety so that he becomes functional again and able to be a kid again, what are we to do? Try medication and see what happens.That is what I did! It has been 5 months and 3 different medications have been tried. We began by starting out at the lowest doses and increasing as needed. Then there was weaning off one medication that was wreaking havoc on his little body, while introducing a new one. The first two medications induced migraines that were debilitating and caused a total of 16 days out of school within the 2 months. Now the third one is doing well with no migraines, but is causing depression.

Should I increase the dosage to deal with the depression? Oh boy, now who has anxiety along with her son?! The story continues, and the need for a lot of hope, faith and prayers for a better year for my little guy!

— Rose, a parent of two children

Posted in Our Families Say | Comments Off on Our Families Say 6